at the Hong Kong Film Awards 1987:
Best Supporting Actor (Wu Ma)
Best Action Choreography (Corey Yuen, Yuen Biao, Mang Hoi
& Hsu Hsia)
Righting Wrongs is, to many, a classic 80s Hong Kong
action movie and it sure contains the ingredients to earn
that prestigious title. To me there was still some things
lacking in the execution of this often brutal, dark but highly recommended 80s actioner.
Yuen Biao plays Hsia Ling-Cheng, a newly examined prosecutor
whose mentor, an outspoken judge, is brutally murdered in
front of him. This triggers a series of events where all Hsia
Ling-Cheng's key witnesses in a drug case are killed off and
with no faith in the law anymore, he decides to take care
of the bad guys himself. Hot on his tail is the female cop
Cindy (Cynthia Rothrock from Yes, Madam) but she doesn't
care whether the truly bad ones are solely arrested. For her a killer
is a killer and therefore she is only out to catch Hsia Ling-Cheng.
Through different turn of events it is discovered that the
head of the criminal organization is a well respected police
man (Melvin Wong from Eastern Condors) and now Hsia
Ling-Cheng and Cindy have to join together to bring him to
Yuen has on several occasions worked as an action choreographer
in films such as Jet Li's Hollywood efforts and you're pretty much guaranteed a good execution in
that department when his name pops up on the screen. In Righting
Wrongs, he has together with his team of choreographers,
which include Yuen Biao himself, come up with some truly excellent
fight- and action scenes. He never fails to show off Yuen
Biao's amazing acrobatic- and martial arts skills but the feeling
of these scenes is more towards brutality and grittiness.
Something which suits the movie very much in tone. Among the
highlights in the choreography is the garage scene where Biao
is fighting both cars and humans plus the almost shocking
climax of the movie with Yuen Biao, Cynthia Rothrock and Melvin
Wong. There are only a few select times where the editing
of the action is a bit hard to follow but this is just a minor
point. The action generates wonderful entertainment despite
the movies dark undertones.
Righting Wrongs is a pretty straightforward and simple
story that one would argue shouldn't be analyzed to the extreme
but I feel there were still flaws that needed to be addressed.
It's mainly Corey's work as a director of actors and the way
he shoots those scenes, that is really average. Most of the
dialogue scenes are ok on a directorial level but they still
feel somewhat flat and lifeless. All in all they work for
this kind of movie and they're just really interludes in between the action.
The movie has a furious pace in the beginning parts but after
that it sort of drags a bit while we get to see the little
but serviceable plot develop. Yuen Biao's character actually
goes missing for a fair amount of time here while we follow
Cynthia Rothrock and Corey Yuen's (yes, that's the director
in a fairly significant role) investigation of the trails
left behind by Hsia Ling-Cheng. Despite a less than complicated
plot, characters enter the movie very quickly and we have
to ponder a bit as to how they fit into the picture. You eventually
have everyone and everything laid out clear and can enjoy
the next hard hitting action scene. When Yuen Biao eventually goes into action again
the remainder of the running time goes by at a smooth pace.
I do think that Righting Wrongs could've gained more
power if it had been been played serious all the way through
the end. Here and there, mainly in the first half, there are
a few of your usual Hong Kong slapstick scenes thrown in.
This is nothing new in Hong Kong filmmaking but it still doesn't
really fit when we're soon after get to see a serious scene
or a brutal one. It's not as extreme as the juxtaposition
between the nasty stuff and the humour in Dr. Lamb though.
of taking the law into your own hands is one we've seen before
and the motivation of Yuen Biao's character is passable considering
the genre of movie it is. The character of Hsia Ling-Cheng
quickly loses confidence in the law and when he's asked which
ones he thinks the law protects, he sorrowfully says: the
bad guys. So almost from the beginning the character has hit
the point of no return and from this the movie carries with
it a very dark and pessimistic tone about a world with no
real justice. I personally think that films need to put that
message up on the big screen at times. We don't live in a
perfect world and sometimes it's easy to forget that fact.
Another movie that I think dealt with this subject is Alfred
Cheung's On The Run.
In the above mentioned On The Run Yuen Biao showed
me the definite sign that he has what it takes to to be a
dramatic actor. In that film he threw one kick and the rest
was him showing a dramatic and gritty side to his acting,
something which made the character more human. In Righting
Wrongs he does well in the balance act between playing
the lost character of Hsia Ling-Cheng and the performance
in the action scenes. It must be said though that the script
isn't that well written even though Biao's character is the
most fleshed out one. His acting doesn't quite reach the height
that the movie aims for but Biao's central performance is
still quite good despite those flaws.
I must admit that I hadn't seen any movie with Cynthia Rothrock
prior to this one and I didn't expect a whole lot from this
fast kicking American female. Her cop role isn't exactly multi
layered and original but, despite the often horrible Cantonese
dubbing of her, she handles herself in a perfectly acceptable
way. She adds strength to the movie through her skills as
an action actress and by the looks of it performs a good slew
of the stunts herself. There were some very obvious doubling
of her and you'll especially laugh at that during her introductory
scene. While Biao beats her in the acting department, she
is a good match and counterpart to him when it comes to the
martial arts itself.
As the film's bad guy we see Melvin Wong and, once again, his character arc
is nothing new to Hong Kong movies but I thought Melvin put
in a good performance. He managed to show the almost cold
blooded nature of his character who will stop at nothing when
it comes to silencing people. There are some fairly gruesome
scenes involving him and this is a movie bad guy that I will
remember for a little while. Other actors could act out this
role way over the top and almost make it comedic but Melvin
stays well within those borders and is actually at times quite
One supporting player worth mentioning is veteran actor and
director Wu Ma who plays the father of Corey Yuen's character.
Their scenes are the so called funny ones in the movie and
while they were not entirely non-humerous, I could've done
without them. Wu Ma does have a memorable dramatic scene later
in the film that involves the death of one of the police men
and his understated reaction in that scene is probably what
earned him the supporting actor nomination that year.
When we start to approach the final 15 minutes of the film,
the expectations are high for a killer climax and the choreographers
certainly was at the top of their game when it came to the
end. If the fight between Yuen Biao and Melvin Wong had been
the final scene of the movie, I would've been very satisfied
but there's more! Melvin's character takes off in a small
air plane with Yuen Biao's character pursuing on foot! Here
Yuen shows his most crazy side and the stunt work on display
here is absolutely amazing. It doesn't even look like they
took any security measures at all, they just did it apparently.
Whether Yuen himself performed all the aerial stunts is unknown
to me but regardless it's still a highly impressive climax
to this movie. Just like the final reel of On The Run there's some sometimes shocking and brutal violence being
shown but I think it's all very reasonable to present it that
way since that tone has been set early on.
Wrongs is a movie I will be revisiting many times but
I think that it would've been even better if the filmmakers
had chosen to leave out the humour and gone with the serious
tone all throughout the movie. Don't let these negative remarks
stop you from adding this movie to your collection though.
It's a very good piece of Hong Kong cinema but if you want
to see Yuen Biao showing his acting skills, I recommend watching On The Run before this. It will make a great double
First of all I have to applaud to Universe
for including TWO versions of the film. One side presents
the Cantonese 92 minute version, while the other has the Mandarin language version, clocking in at 94 minutes.
The Mandarin edit first and foremost contains a different
chain of events in the hangar end fight as well as an alternative
ending to the film. There are also a few extended and deleted
scenes throughout the movie. For example there is more dialogue
with the family of Yuen Biao's main witness and a scene showing
the relationship between Fan Siu Wong's character and his
grandfather. None of these scenes are really integral to the
plot but they make for worthwhile viewing.
I noticed that some of the more violent scenes had been
shortened also. Parts of the extended scenes and choices during the ending are preferable but most likely you'll choose the Cantonese version and screen the extended bits on the flip side from time to time. Stills
from these scenes and others are available in the Righting
Wrongs Deleted & Extended Scenes Gallery.
The movie is presented in an aspect ratio which looks more
closer to 1.90:1 but if it was over matted from 1.85:1, I sure
didn't notice any signs of it. The print itself looks and
feels like a Hong Kong movie from 1986 which is a good thing.
There is a slight softness to it but somehow I feel it should
look that way. Colours are good and the best thing is that
the print is very clean. Specks are only in and out for a
few scenes and the dreaded line through the print reared its
ugly head once. The Mandarin edit has a very similar
picture but is slightly darker in places.
There's only one sound option for the Cantonese version and
that is a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix in Cantonese. Most of the
times it's a restrained remix that is centered but there are
some few instances of some really bad inserted foley effects.
This is very noticeable in the car chase at the beginning
and very distracting when they do occur. The Mandarin version has some very uneven mixing between dialogue and effects
but other than that and the Mandarin dubbing, they sound the
The English subtitles are very good on both versions with
only a select few grammar and spelling errors. However they're
unfortunately placed partly on the picture and the black border.
Hong Kong companies should learn that that is a big no-no for us
widescreen owners. Other subtitles for the Cantonese version
are Traditional and simplified Chinese. For the Mandarin
version you get Japanese, Thai, Bahasa Malysian, Bahasa Indonesian,
Korean and Vietnamese subtitles.
Both sides contain the same supplements which are basic Star's
Files for Corey Yuen and Yuen Biao in both Chinese and English
and trailers for Righting Wrongs, The Heroic Trio, Executioners & The Young Master.
reviewed by Kenneth
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